The Crazy School

Cornelia Read, Author . Grand Central $23.99 (328p) ISBN 978-0-446-58259-9

At the start of Edgar-finalist Read’s gutsy second Madeline Dare novel (after 2006’s A Field of Darkness ), Dare, a 26-year-old former debutante, takes a job in the fall of 1989 as a history teacher at Santangelo Academy, an unorthodox “therapeutic boarding school” in western Massachusetts dominated by its authoritarian cape-wearing headmaster, David Santangelo. When a student, Mooney LeChance, reveals that his girlfriend, Fay Perry, is pregnant, Dare keeps Mooney’s secret while the couple is confined to “the Farm,” a punishment dorm in the woods. The book’s first half focuses on character—the woefully misguided souls who teach at Santangelo, the students in all their dysfunctional glory—but the action picks up when Mooney and Fay die from drinking poisoned punch after a birthday party at the Farm, and Dare is arrested for her role in preparing the fatal beverage. While some characters, like the social-climbing parents who drop in between vacations, verge on stereotype, Read graphically depicts the depressing underside of a supposedly elite private school. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2007
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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